If there was a test to become a parent, like there is to drive a car, I would fail.
When it comes to my three kids I fly by the seat of my pants. I mean, how else would I end up in the triage unit of my Pediatrician’s office on my first day alone with our 11-month-old baby?
On the first day! I am terrified to think of what day 10 is going to look like!
As I’m gripping him in my panicked stricken arms and bloodstained shirt, what do I see framed on the walls? An article from Chicago Parent magazine writer Caitlin Giles. Our doctor liked the information so much he framed it and put in on the wall as an example of excellent parenting.
I am the polar opposite. I am the schmuck who let his baby roll off the changing table and smack his face on the floor.
You heard it right. He fell on the floor like a country ham, splat! Face first. All because I forgot to refill his diaper bin on the changing table and needed a swim diaper for the pool. Odd because I usually let him swim in a normal diaper. Seriously, how funny is it when the diaper expands so much that the baby looks like a junior member of the Clumps?
But not this time. This time I chose to use the swim diaper and went for the “dash and grab.” You know it right? When you need something that is just out of reach so you take off like the Flash, grab what you need, and fly back to grab the baby before he falls, chokes or smears his foot in poop.
After three kids, if the dash and grab was an Olympic sport, I’d win the gold medal. The diaper was in the closet. I could see it, I just couldn’t reach it. Logically, I told the baby, who understands zero of anything yet, “Buddy lay still, daddy will be back in four seconds.”
His response of course was to start to roll, the second I turned my back, because again, babies don’t understand you. If I would have said, “Buddy, the roof is open on the shower and the cat needs a shoe shine in the front yard,” he would have done the exact same thing.
I thought I would make it there and back. I am a marathon runner. I am an Ironman. It was only 12 feet away.
But I failed to reach the finish line. The result? A bloody, broken baby and a completely freaked out dad feeling like the worst human in the world because I let my son fall to the ground and break his arm.
The doctor tried to calm me down as he put on his orange camouflage cast (Bears orange with blue trim) saying he has treated thousands of babies who have fallen off the changing table.
His advice for the future: The dash and grab never works. You are setting yourself up for disaster. Never leave them up there. It’s easier to put them on the floor or carry them with you. It takes a few extra seconds and saves a trip to the ER.
It’s at this time that I remember a piece of advice I got from a friend right before our oldest daughter was born. “Kids are like a brand new piece of glass that has never been touched, they are pure and perfect. We will put our prints all over them and maybe even leave some dents and chips, but the goal is not to shatter them.”
My boy definitely has a “chip,” but he will be better in four to six weeks and the rest of him is still strong.
This experience taught me a great lesson about parenting. We will all make mistakes as parents – big and small – because none of us are perfect.
Comparing yourself to the standards of something you read in a magazine or see on TV is just going to cause you misery. We will all mess up, again and again. The goal is to learn from those mistakes, adjust, and keep moving forward.
Sure, I am cut off from sex for the unforeseeable future but that too will pass. My son’s arm will heal and I will continue to do my best to make sure that my kids are safe, healthy and happy.